When I first started blogging I read all manner of advice and 'rules' for having a successful blog. Some of these rules worked, some of them didn't....
But few of these 'lists' were actually written from the point of view of someone who had a blog. That's where this list is different. This list is aimed at those of you that either have just started blogging, or are thinking about pulling the trigger on starting one. These are the methods I have used to build a community for my blog, The Viral Garden, which has an Alexa ranking of 108,415 after 78 days of being live. Basically this is what I've learned the hard way, and the stuff I wish someone had told me before I fell down the blogging rabbit hole. ;)
1 - Pick your passion. It all starts here. It can be a hobby, your career, your pet python, but it has to be your passion. Something that you love, so that you can communicate that love to your readers. Passion can't be faked, and visitors to your blog won't come back if you try. But if you are passionate, and effective at communicating that passion to your readers, they'll love you for it.
2 - Leave your blog. If picking your passion is the first step in having a successful blog, leaving your blog is the best way to grow it. I cannot stress this enough, and could expand this one step into its own post.
The big mistake that most new bloggers make(I did this as well) is that they think that they need to invest all their time on building their blog's content. Wrong. You need to invest all your time in building your COMMUNITY. That happens by interacting with other bloggers in THEIR space. Go to their blogs, and communicate with these bloggers. Give them as much solid feedback as you can. They will reward you by following you back to YOUR blog, and returning the favor. Before you know it, you've planted the seeds for your own budding community.
3 - Focus on readers, not traffic. Right now there is someone reading your blog. Your job is to find a way to make sure that s/he comes back. Don't focus on trying to bring another visitor in, focus on delighting your current visitor, and let her tell her friends what a great blog you have.
4 - Before you hit 'Publish', ask yourself 'Why will anyone care to read this?' I've deleted many a post at this point. Figure out what your 'story' will be before you start writing. If you are writing about a 'news' story, find a way to put your original spin on it. But before you post it, spin it around and look at it from the reader's point of view, and ask yourself if they would find it as interesting as you do.
5 - Only post when you have something to say. Eric's recent post was spot-on here. You don't have to post everyday, in fact it's often best if you don't. If you become a 'slave' to your blog and feel that you have to post every single day, the quality of your postings will likely fall, which will, ironically, lead to LESS traffic. Only post when you have something to say, your readers will forgive the occasional day or 2 off.
6 - Be patient. And get ready to work. Building a community for your blog takes time, and effort. The reward is that you'll meet some simply amazing people, and in the end get back from the community far more than you could ever give.
7 - Do whatever you can to make it as easy as possible for your community to contact you, and interact with you. And always encourage readers to give you feedback.
So that's my list, if there's something you have learned that you'd like to share with the rest of us, please leave a comment! (See how easy it is?)
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